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2006 College Leaders Program: Day 7
Jun 3 2006 - 3:50pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 7--Friday, June 2
Reported by: Andrew Lamar, University of Mary Washington

Brady DeRemer, Andrew Lamar, and Chris Wrobel

    Today the College Leaders Program continued to take a look at Virginia state government.  We began our morning with Dr. Kidd, discussing the next few articles of the Virginia state constitution. There were plenty of interesting discussions with regards to the granted (but limited) powers of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government.  We spent a great deal of time debating the powers of the governor and whether there should be a one-term limit for the office.  The shift from Byrd Democratic control to now a Republican controlled legislature put the Legislative and Executive branches into a very interesting historical setting.  In addition, we discussed the legislature's somewhat refreshing nature of institutional (rather than political party) disagreements on certain issues such as transportation. It is interesting that the current debate is in many ways how the founders intended it to be.  These discussions comprised around six hours of our class time for the day, and there was hardly a dull moment.
    After lunch today we heard from the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Mr. Gordon Wood, of Brown University.  Mr. Wood answered many of our questions about late 18th-century America, including those about how Virginia's founding fathers would have pictured our society to be today.  He answered questions ranging from the founders' leadership roles and personalities to the historical role of religion in politics.  It was a delight to have such an intelligent American historian share his perspective and stories from our founding era.
    Afternoon thunderstorms finally brought a break from the heat to Charlottesville for the evening.  It is the end of the first five-day week at least, and we can't wait to be in class at 8:30 on a Saturday morning. In all seriousness, we are having a great time with our new friends, and we are learning more than we ever could have expected, from class time to our late night discussions.  The differing viewpoints have taught us all more about the issues we care about so much, and we continue to be excited about the coming days.

--Andrew Lamar, University of Mary Washington

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 6
Jun 2 2006 - 1:20pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 5--Thursday, June 1
Reported by: Lincoln Saunders of the College of William and Mary

Lincoln Saunders and Eric Paulson

   
Well, we are all moved into Bice Hall now and the program continues to
press on. Today began with an intriguing two-part look at local
government. The first part was lead by Mayor David Brown of
Charlottesville and the Chairman of the Albemarle  County Board of
Supervisors, Dennis Rooker. They both spoke on the forms and functions
of their respective governments. They were also uniquely capable of
discussing how cities and counties in Virginia are able to come up with
innovative ways to pool resources and responsibilities, as well as
areas where cooperation is more difficult.
    Our
next speaker for the day was Gary O'Connell who serves as
Charlottesville's City Manager. I personally was surprised during Mr.
O'Connell's  talk by the size and complexity of Charlottesville's
government. It was also intriguing to hear Mr. O'Connell describe the
balance of power between a city council and their city manager.
   
After lunch we were joined by yet another outstanding speaker, Del.
Steve Landes of the 25th House District. Delegate Landes spoke at
length on his responsibilities as the House Republican Caucus
Director.  He also answered questions on a wide range of topics
including the state budget making process, transportation, and the
displacement of the legislature as the Capital is being renovated.
   
We spent the remainder of our afternoon continuing our discussion of
the Virginia Constitution with Dr. Kidd. We looked at each article of
the Constitution and dissected them for potential changes. I would be
amiss to fail to agree with the previous posts about the quality of the
individuals involved in this program. Our discussion of the
Constitution only heightened my respect for my classmates. The
innovation and open-mindedness of this group surpasses any organization
I have been involved with in the past. From issues concerning
transportation to taxation to Governor Tim Kaine, all topics are
approached thoughtfully and in a civil manner. Who knew government
boot-camp could be so interesting?

--Lincoln Saunders, College of William and Mary

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 5
Jun 1 2006 - 12:19pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 5--Wednesday, May 31
Reported by: Holly Mattocks of the University of Virginia

Lauren Stech (left) of Radford University and Holly Mattocks (right) of the University of Virginia in class at the College Leaders Program


    This morning we were fortunate to be visited by Mr. Dickie Cranwell, the Chairmen of the Democratic Party of Virginia and long time state representative. He spoke passionately about the changing status of civility in Virginia's General Assembly today. He has noticed a definite decrease in the levels of respect and honor in the Assembly-- to a level that he considers unacceptable among statesman in Richmond.
    Afterwards our group headed to the University of Virginia Rotunda to take individual and group pictures before going back to the Cavalier Inn to move our stuff over to Bice dorms. We quickly settled in and grabbed lunch before diving into our culminating projects.
    We spent a few hours this afternoon discussing our ideas for our culminating projects, on issues ranging from SOL's to the "Death Tax." The students had a lot of creative ideas on a wide variety of topics that we feel need to addressed in the state of Virginia. We finished the afternoon by placing our preferences for subjects to be addressed by our projects. Tomorrow we will be placed in groups and really start delving into the issues defining our culminating projects!

--Holly Mattocks, University of Virginia

Sorensen Institute to Host Pulitzer Prize Winning Historian Gordon Wood in Charlottesville
Jun 1 2006 - 11:53am

                                                                  

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership is proud to sponsor Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon Wood of Brown University, who will be visiting Charlottesville this weekend. Professor Wood will be speaking to the students in this year's College Leaders Program as well as the 2006 Class of our Political Leaders Program, which will be meeting in Charlottesville on Friday and Saturday.

The Sorensen Institute will also be sponsoring a public talk by Professor Wood on Saturday, June 3, at 3pm at the Harrison Institute on Grounds at the University of Virginia. He will talking about his new book, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different. Sorensen's Coy Barefoot will also be interviewing Professor Wood on Charlottesville radio--which will be podcast next week.

Gordon Wood is the Alva O. Way University Professor at Brown University and a renowned scholar of the early American republic. Among his books are “The Radicalism of the American Revolution,” for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, and “The Creation of the  American Republic, 1776-1787,” which won the Bancroft and John H. Dunning prizes. Professor Wood's scholarship has also been honored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Historical Association, and the Huntington Library, where he was a recipient of the Fletcher Jones  Distinguished  Fellowship.

Alumnus Lambert Showcased in RTD
Jun 1 2006 - 8:46am

David Lambert, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2003, was showcased by the Richmond Times-Dispatch in an article today titled "Blacks Make Gains in Business: Ownership Grows as Young Professionals Realize Options."

David is the entrepreneur behind Richmond's Hyperlink Cafe.

Click here to read the article and see a recent photo of David.

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 4
May 31 2006 - 1:46pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 4-- Tuesday, May 30
Reported by: Brian Coy, a recent graduate of James Madison University



Brian Coy is interviewed for the local CBS affiliate in Charlottesville about the College Leaders Program

    Today we dove into the first section of study outlined in the College Leaders Program curriculum, which is entitled “The Informed Citizen: Virginia Government and Politics.” Professor Quentin Kidd conducted a morning session which focused on the geographic, political and demographic features that constitute the Commonwealth. This in-depth examination of the different regions of Virginia will no doubt serve us well as we attempt to understand the policy needs of the Commonwealth on both the local and statewide levels. As we discussed each region of Virginia, the students that hail from these areas offered details and insights that helped to paint a clearer picture of life in different parts of the state. Our morning session clearly demonstrated that although we are all Virginians, our day to day experiences are in many cases vastly different in our respective parts of the Commonwealth. 
    The afternoon session was spent wrapping up the remainder of Dr. Kidd’s survey of the different features of the regions of Virginia, and afterward we set our focus on the Constitution of Virginia. Dr. Kidd requested that we as a class name things that we believe should be changed within Article One of the document.  The first suggestions that were made led to a fascinating discussion on amending the Constitution, with a group of students espousing the idea that the Constitution should be amended in order to reflect the make-up of the people it serves. Another group asserted that the Constitution should not to be amended unless there is a truly pressing need. This discussion highlighted very well how talented, thoughtful and intellectually diverse our group is this summer.
    Tonight we spend our last night in our temporary home, the Cavalier Inn, before we move into Bice Hall, our home for the rest of the program.

--Brian Coy, James Madison University

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 3
May 30 2006 - 6:38pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 3--Monday, May 29 (First Day of Class!)
Reported by: Katherine Ely of Old Dominion University



"Kat" Ely at the Ropes Course on Sunday

    The day began (early, again) with a discussion about the problems/challenges in Virginia. I often find myself asking this question and trying to understand that my perspective is drastically different from others—this proved to be an inaccurate statement. My beliefs about the problems in Virginia were shared with every member of the class, which was surprising and comforting. Being from the same part of the country and the same state my entire life, my perspective is rather narrow, but with every experience and every individual I encounter, I broaden my knowledge and expand my horizons. I wonder what life in rural Virginia would be like. Questions like that are better answered from others' opinions and discussions (i.e.—I don’t really want to move there to find out).
    The speakers that we heard today were quite intriguing. The first, Marc Cheatham, who works in the Governor’s office, was a very energetic and passionate person. [Marc is Director of Constituent Services for Governor Tim Kaine and is a member of the Sorensen Institute's Political Leaders Program Class of 2006]. Marc shared with us the perspective of a man who has just begun his journey into the world of professional politics after a life of incredible experiences and diversity.  Marc struck me as someone similar to myself-- not a political science major, but still someone very passionate about Virginia and advancement of “honest and forthright public policy.”
    I especially enjoyed his discussion about how important it is to have a background in research to fully understand and deal with all of the problems that constituents present. Working as a Legislative Aide, I frequently find that constituents come to their representatives when they have a problem-- even if it doesn’t deal with the state (talk to an LA and you will hear some crazy stories),  I have been a research assistant for four years. I didn’t really know how much it would help, but now I have hopes that one day I can use it for something of consequence.
    The final part of the day was a seminar directed by the Sorensen Institute's Executive Director, Sean T. O’Brien,  about Ethics. I fully enjoyed his lecture and the information that he presented. Ethics is such a subjective topic that I think some of the class members didn’t find it all that impressive; but then again, can you really teach someone what morals and values are? The difference between right and wrong, and the purpose of understanding when you have a dilemma and how to fix it? These are things that I believe to be “experience-based knowledge”;  mostly fluid information that changes with your experiences and your evolving self-perspective.
    I don’t really know who I am or where I’ll be in ten years.  I have goals and dreams, but they’ve already changed so many times that who really knows what my sense of morality will be in the future--even tomorrow? I can only hope that experiences like these I am having here in Charlottesville and programs like Sorensen can help me to evolve into a more effective leader and responsible member of society.
--Katherine Ely, Old Dominion University

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 2
May 30 2006 - 6:18pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 2--Sunday, May 28
Reported by: Chalana Williams of Radford University

Chalana Williams, Holly Mattocks and Tyler Sinsabuagh help Emily Reijmers over "The Wall" at the Ropes Course on Sunday, May 28

    The second day of the College Leaders Program started bright and early on a warm Sunday morning. The day ahead of us would be an active one and at times quite challenging.
    At the Falls River Valley we all participated in various courses that taught us how to work as a team, trust each other, and communicate effectively. Never in a million years would I have expected to be climbing walls or watching one of my classmates climb a huge pole--blind folded! I absolutely loved the early morning events.
    After we finished up with that, everyone came back to the hotel and quickly got ready for dinner. The Baja Bean Company was exactly what I needed to put back on all of the calories that I had worked off earlier that day. These first two days at the Sorensen Institute have been loads of fun, and I cannot wait to see what else is in store for us!  
--Chalana Williams, Radford University

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 1
May 30 2006 - 5:58pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 1-- Saturday May 27
Reported by: Kimberly McKay of Virginia Tech




Kimberly McKay and Program Manager Chris Wrobel at the Ropes Course on Sunday, May 28

    Today, marked the beginning of the 2006 College Leaders Program at the Sorensen Institute.  We moved into the Caviler Inn for the first four days of the program and will move to Bice Hall in the middle of the week.  Our orientation to the program reminded us why we choose to be apart of this program.  As young leaders, we want to create change and better our communities through government. 
    After dinner we had the first of our guest speakers, Will Harris the Director of the Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier.
He urged leaders to adhere to the Constitution and work
within its limits.  He wanted us as leaders to think about the
importance of the Constitution in our understanding of the political
process.  The Constitution is the basis for government created by the
people of that nation, and leaders should hold themselves to the
standards detailed in that document. When elected officials take an
oath of office, they promise to uphold and abide by the Constitution.
Dr. Harris’ speech provided a thought-provoking start to the program.
   
We concluded the day with a scavenger hunt around the Grounds of UVa. We found places from the White Spot (home of the famous "Gusburger") to the Raven in Edgar Allen Poe’s room.  It offered students a chance to get to know each other and got the program off to a great start.  —Kimberly McKay, Virginia Tech


2006 College Leaders Program: Student Bloggers!
May 30 2006 - 5:40pm

This summer we launch something new for the Sorensen Institute: daily updates on our College and High School Leaders Program. These blog updates will be written by none other than the students themselves!

Each day we will bring you a report from a student about what happened the previous day in the program. We hope you enjoy this unprecedented sneak peek into Sorensen's incredibly successful and unique youth programs.

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Featured Alumni

  • Craig Fifer.jpg

    Craig Fifer

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2003

    Craig is the E-Government Manager for the City of Alexandria. At our 2006 Alumni Reunion, Craig was presented the annual Service to Sorensen Award for the generous donations of his time, talents, and efforts to the work of the Sorensen Institute.